Prelims Exam

Economy

RBI Monetary Policy

Key Decisions (April MPC):

  • Repo Rate unchanged at 6.5%.
  • GDP growth forecast at 7% for FY25.
    • Breakdown: Q1 – 7.1%, Q2 – 6.9%, Q3 & Q4 – 7% each.
  • Forex reserves at record high: $645.6 billion (as of March 29).
  • Inflation: Core inflation at lowest level in the series (past 9 months).
  • Rupee stability: Most stable currency among major economies in FY24 (compared to previous 3 years).

RBI Monetary Policy Committee (MPC)

  • Established in 2016, with 6 members led by RBI Governor.
  • Determines repo rate to achieve inflation target (4% with 2% band).
  • Meets at least 4 times a year.

Monetary Policy and Instruments

  • Aims to achieve economic objectives using various instruments.
  • Instruments include:
    • Fractional Reserve Banking:
      • CRR: Cash Reserve Ratio – amount of deposits banks keep with RBI (affects money supply).
      • SLR: Statutory Liquidity Ratio – mandated investment in government bonds (affects money supply).
    • Liquidity Adjustment Facility (LAF):
      • Repo Rate: rate at which RBI lends to banks (affects lending rates).
      • Reverse Repo Rate: rate at which RBI borrows from banks.
    • Open Market Operations: buying/selling government securities to manage liquidity.

Agriculture

Hydroponic Farming: A Sustainable Future for Agriculture?

Soilless Cultivation

  • Hydroponics is a method of growing crops without soil, using a nutrient solution or inert materials like rockwool.

Ideal Applications

  • Water Scarcity:Hydroponics significantly reduces water usage, making it suitable for drought-prone areas.
  • Unfavorable Terrain:In rocky or uneven regions, hydroponics offers an alternative to traditional soil-based agriculture.
  • Low Soil Fertility:Hydroponics bypasses the need for fertile soil, enabling cultivation in areas with poor soil quality.
  • High-Demand Markets:Hydroponic farms can cater to the demand for fresh produce in urban and semi-urban areas.

Advantages of Hydroponics

  • Increased Yields:Controlled environments and efficient resource use lead to significantly higher crop yields.
  • Resource Efficiency:Water and nutrients are recycled, minimizing waste and environmental impact.
  • Reduced Labor Needs:No weeding or traditional cultivation is required, lowering labor costs.
  • Minimized Pests and Diseases:Eliminating soil reduces the risk of soil-borne pests and diseases.

 

Basel III Endgame

Context

  • US Federal Reserve to propose changes to the Basel III Endgame.

Basel III

  • Developed by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision.
  • Sets minimum capital requirements for banks globally to ensure stability during financial crises.
  • Basel III standards include capital, leverage, and liquidity requirements.
  • The “Endgame” refers to the finalization of these standards, agreed upon in 2017.

 

Environment

Plankton Crash in Puducherry

National Green Tribunal (NGT) panel identified the cause of the red sea phenomenon as a plankton crash.

  • Study by Annamalai University:
    • Specific phytoplankton species (Noctiluca scintillans) ruptured, releasing red pigment.
    • Environmental factors conducive to this species’ growth.
  • Recommendations:
    • Strict monitoring of sewage entering the sea.
    • Long-term solutions for untreated sewage disposal.

Post Offices in Antarctica: India’s Polar Presence

Indian Antarctic Program

  • Established in 1981, India’s multi-disciplinary program focuses on Antarctic research.
  • Signatory to the Antarctic Treaty, India operates two research stations: Maitri and Bharati.
  • The Indian Antarctic Bill (2022) provides a legal framework for these activities and environmental protection.

Indian Post Offices in Antarctica

  • Dakshin Gangotri (1984):First Indian post office, decommissioned due to submergence in the late 1980s.
  • Maitri (1990):Established as a new post office branch at India’s Maitri research station.
  • Bharati (2024):Recently inaugurated Bharati Branch Post Office with a unique PIN code (MH-1718).

Significance

  • These post offices showcase India’s long-standing presence in Antarctica (over 40 years).
  • Mail is routed through the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR) in Goa, a central hub for Indian polar activities.

 

 Polity

Pashmina March Highlights Ladakh’s Challenges

Context

  • Ladakh administration imposed Section 144 to restrict the Pashmina March led by Sonam Wangchuk.

Pashmina March

  • Aimed to raise awareness about threats to Ladakhi grazing lands.
  • Highlighted:
    • Encroachment by Indian industrialists.
    • Alleged Chinese incursions in Changthang Plateau.
    • Importance of protecting the ecologically fragile region.

Changthang Region

  • Part of the Tibetan Plateau, extending into Ladakh.
  • High-altitude region with unique wildlife.
  • Home to the Changpa nomads and their pashmina goats.
  • Source of world-renowned Ladakh pashmina wool.

Health

Germany Legalizes Recreational Cannabis

  • Germany legalized adult possession and consumption of small amounts of cannabis (marijuana).
  • Cannabis: dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds from Cannabis sativa or indica plants.
  • Contains THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol), a psychoactive compound.
  • Marijuana: common term for cannabis leaves.
  • Cannabinoids: compounds structurally similar to THC.
  • Cannabis cultivation is legal for personal use with limitations.

Sci.- Tech

Coordinated Lunar Time

  • White House directed NASA to create a unified timekeeping system for the moon.
  • Coordinated Lunar Time (CLT) will benefit lunar missions by:
    • Enhancing precision for spacecraft and satellites.
    • Streamlining operations and communication.
  • Needed for future lunar bases and potential Mars missions.
  • Development deadline: end of 2026.

 

Ancient History

Rakhigarhi Findings in NCERT Books

DNA Analysis

  • NCERT to include findings from Rakhigarhi’s ancient DNA analysis.
  • Study suggests Harappan genetic roots go back to 10,000 BCE.
  • Majority of South Asians may be Harappan descendants.
  • Findings indicate genetic continuity with some absorption from outside groups.

Rakhigarhi Significance

  • Located in Haryana, dating back to 2600-1900 BCE.
  • Largest Harappan site in India.
  • Findings include:
    • Granary from mature Harappan phase.
    • Fire altars and apsidal structures.
    • Cemetery with eight graves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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